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 Tougher training requirements for FAA co-pilots

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gauravprakash007
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PostSubject: Tougher training requirements for FAA co-pilots   Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:44 am

Seeking to improve the qualifications of airline crews, federal aviation regulators on Friday took the first official step toward creating a new commercial co-pilot's license that could mandate tougher academic requirements and enhanced flight-training for high altitudes or bad weather.

By releasing some preliminary concepts and asking for public comments about whether the agency should proceed with formal rulemaking, Randy Babbitt, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, is following up on earlier promises to beef up licensing requirements in the wake of the crash last year of a Colgan Air Inc. turboprop outside Buffalo, N.Y.

In the document released Friday on the Federal Register's Web site, the FAA said the Colgan crash, which killed 50 people, raised questions about whether current co-pilot training includes "enough hours training in various weather conditions to be able to recognize a potentially dangerous situation" such as icing or a midair stall, and "respond in a safe and timely manner."

The FAA is considering, among other things, raising academic requirements for new co-pilots; requiring hundreds more hours of flying experience than the current minimum of about 200 hours; and requiring co-pilots to obtain additional training in pressurized aircraft.

One of the most controversial issues broached by the FAA is the possibility of creating a new type of license that would be valid only as long as a pilot continued to work for a specific airline flying a certain type of aircraft. Once he or she moved to work for a new carrier, such a license no longer would remain in effect. The purpose of such a license, according to the FAA, "would be to ensure that each carrier has provided" its pilots with training geared to its specific fleet and operations.

The FAA's move parallels some of the changes advocated by pilot union leaders and independent safety experts. It also comes as lawmakers are considering legislation that would mandate new co-pilot experience and training standards, including a dramatic increase in the minimum number of hours required behind the controls prior to flying passengers.

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